RSS affiliates to deliberate on the importance of genealogy writing

New Delhi: How did our ancestors document the origin of their roots, and how scientific were their methods? How diverse are the country’s traditions on genealogy writing, and how is such work preserved for generations? What are the roots of the people who live in this country and what are their ancestral identities?

Questions like this will be deliberated at the RSS-backed Prajnya Pravah’s third edition of ‘Lokmanthan’, the Colloquium of Nation First Thinkers and Practitioners, organized along with other RSS affiliates such as Samskar Bharati, Vijnana Bharati, Sahitya Parishad, Itihas Sankalan Samiti and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, in Guwahati from September 22 to September 24. While RSS leaders, including general Dattatreya Hosabale, are expected to participate in the event, vice-president of India Jagdeep Dhankhar and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sharma are also expected to speak.

J Nandakumar, the national convenor of Prajna Pravah, told ET that Indian traditions of genealogy writing or Vanshavali lekhan have a long, continuous history of chronicling the journey of families, and in some ways, have worked as an ancient, effective form of census.

Genealogy is the study of families and tracing of ancestors to prove kinship and pedigrees. But experts say it often cannot provide definitive answers about geographic origins and ancient migrations of communities.

Organizations such as the Akhil Bharatiya Vanshawali Sanrakshan evam Samvardhan Sansthan (ABVSSS) backed by RSS leaders have been doing extensive research using oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis and other family documents to prove that all people living in the country have the same ancestors. Senior functionaries of the organization such as Sukhdeo Rao who have been working on projects to prove that Indian Muslims have the same lineage of ancestors such as Hindus, are scheduled to speak at the event.

There will also be discussions on the lok traditions of faith and science in the country, history of pilgrimages and annadan (giving food to the needy), ways in which agriculture and food feature in folk traditions, the significance of ST communities in preserving the wealth of forests, common marriage traditions seen among communities in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Manipur and Rajasthan among other topics.

Nandakumar added that non-veg food was not a taboo in the country but beef should be avoided, as there are “compelling scientific reasons” against it. He said local context, traditions and availability determine food habits of people. “We have never said that eating non vegetarian food is wrong. When it comes to beef, there are social and scientific reasons. Everyone knows that cow is an integral part of our rural economy,” he said.

Nandakumar said the theme of this year’s Lokmanthan was Lokparampara (folk traditions) and how “they have preserved our civilizational ethos and strengthened our feeling of selfhood.” The event he said was important as it is being held at a time when there “is an attempt by forces inimical to the unity of Bharat to widen the faultlines and divisions within society”.

The event has listed many speakers and performers who are experts in folk, religious and tribal art.

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